DAR’s P9.3-B 2024 budget hurdles Senate panel

By Wilnard Bacelonia

October 19, 2023, 9:04 pm

<p>Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III <em>(PNA file photo by Avito Dalan)</em></p>

Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III (PNA file photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA - The proposed 2024 budget of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) amounting to PHP9.393 billion is set to proceed in the plenary after being approved, subject for submission of additional documents, on Thursday by the Senate Finance Subcommittee "B" chaired by Senator Cynthia Villar.

Villar said she believes in DAR's work in giving justice to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and provides them and their organization support to become more productive, enterprising and grow into vibrant players in community undertaking.

"I'm very happy because you have land distribution. You are going to give justice to the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries," Villar said.

DAR Secretary Conrado Estrella III told Villar that the agency has so far distributed 17,379 titles covering 15,817 hectares to 16,843 ARBs from January to October 2023.

Estrella admitted that the government's Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program has been "derailed" in the past 20 years but assured that DAR will work hard in addressing the situation.

"With all the problems that we are encountering now, we are swarmed with so many problems. We are drowning with tremendous problems but we are still breathing fine and there are so many challenges but there's no problem because with the help of the Lord Almighty, the solutions are within reach," he said.

He also thanked the Senate for approving the passage into law of Republic Act 11953 or the New Agrarian Emancipation Act which condoned PHP57.56 billion debt of 610,054 ARBs tilling 1.173 million hectares of land.

During the budget deliberation, the panel also discussed DAR's only foreign-assisted project, the Support the Parcelization of Lands for Individual Titling (SPLIT) project.

To be financed by the World Bank, SPLIT project aims to improve land tenure security and strengthen property rights of ARBs in the next four years through accelerated subdivision and individual titling of 1.395 million hectares covered by collective Certificate of Land Ownership Award. (PNA)